Sunday, 27 October 2013

If You Do Anything Today

Read this post laying down the facts of the picture of Gaelic in Scotland today. It's  brilliant.

Scottish Gaelic is my first language, I went through Gaelic medium education and while I'm married to an English man I speak Gaelic at home. My husband's radio station of choice is BBC Radio Nan Gaidheal.

Causeways and odd road signs another aspect of the gaeldom

Saturday, 26 October 2013

This is the time of to-do lists

It's less than two month till Christmas. I know I know it seems like all I've done is talk about Christmas. I need to share more of my life, and I promise I will. But the key to a stress free (or as close as it gets) and affordable holiday is in the planning. You don't want to pay for the holiday with only one month's worth of pay. It's not like the regular bills take the month of December off.

Gifts, decorations, food, cards, it amounts to a lot. Here are the last postage dates for mail from the UK, some of the international airmail ones are very early in December! I'm terrible for missing the postage dates, I think most of the cards I sent didn't arrive until after Christmaslast year. Whoops. We've already missed most of the surface mail dates for this year! Air mail it is then...

Not to mention that November is goign to be super busy what with me finishing up the semester, looking for a job for when I graduate while you know still trying to maintain  bit of a social life. No biggie? It's just about making the most of my time. And planning. Let's not forget tea! Tea is wonderful!

Now I have to get to the doing part of my to-do, are you guys as swamped as I am?

Minnie xoxo

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Living Vicariously Through Others

Or even knitting vicariously through others. It's awesome.

Tasha over at By Gum By Golly is having a follow along, sharing the process she goes through fitting and knitting a 1940s knitting pattern. I am still knitting the grey stretch monstrosity for bloke. Mostly because it's really bloody dull and I banish it to the spare room for months on end. I am determined to have it finished before Christmas though. So here's the fancy button and link:

I do love me a red jumper. Alas the hair it is rather ginger these days. Perhaps in a nice shade of blue? Or a nice Kelly green. What ever happens I'm sure it'll look fab. If I ever finsh the one for bloke...

Also I'm never knitting an all rib jumper for my husband that isn't in the round. Just no. At this moment in time I'm refusing to believe I'll have to sew it up. Fairies will come in the night and do it for me right?

Just pat my head and make me tea while I sit here in denial,
Much appreciated
Minnie xoxo

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Presents vs Gifts

So, the cake has been made so we're officially in the run up to Christmas. Granted we're still at the marathon stage not the sprint. But still the totting up of budgets is happening, the slow panic is building. Last night Bloke was watching Dave Gorman's new show Modern Life Is Goodish. And he made a brilliant point. There's a difference between Gifts and Presents.

Its quite a simple concept "presents" are things that you would actually buy for your self: books, clothing, perfume etc. "Gifts" are those things that are created especially for giving and are not something you'd not buy for yourself: miniature foods, mini sets of *anything*, the dad centric desk gifts and the myriad of joke presents available in the run up to Christmas. Now I can hear your "But bath sets are useful!" Well yes and no, how many selections of bubble bath are actually used? It really comes down to how familiar you are with the persons bath/shower time habits. I fully admit to buying my husband a nice shower set or posh soap every gifting holiday but I do so knowing that it's something he'll actually use. The same cannot be said for anyone who doesn't share a bathroom with me.

Now, this is not to say that presents will be what the person wants. But there is something far more personal about it. And the whole point of presents is the thought you've put into it.

And presents don't have to be about shopping. I cannot emphasise this enough. I only buy things for a very select few, and honestly most of them are children. Every one else gets food at Christmas. Bloke and I spend a few days making a section of edible goodies. we can't guarantee you'll like them, but you can feed them to any of your guests, we don't even mind if you pretend to your Aunt Mabel that you made them yourself.

And if cooking isn't your thing, don't sweat it. Use your talents! If you want to. This is just a plea against wasting your money because you have to buy some one a gift.

 If you can't think of anything, go for the best sort of gift- the charity gift. Oxfam do a wonderful range. How about some Chickens for the animal lover in your life? Or if your budget is a bit bigger you could help a vulnerable child.

So, this isn't a campaign for no gifts ever, just "Let's stop buying pointless crap, yeah?" I promise I'm not a grinch.

Minnie xoxo

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Things I'd Like To Wear This Week

I really love autumn, but with the cold weather drawing in my mind always strays to the shops to see what catches my eye. Answer? A lot. But here are a few of my favourites.  This isn't a sponsored post at all, I'm just sharing my perusing and musings.

This gorgeous spotty trench coat from Boden. This is how you look dashing and elegant on a wet grey autumnal day.

These slippers from Accessorize Hello, you would make my toes ever so cosy. And I'm too behind on my knitting to make anything like you for my self.
This rocking teal animal print dress from George at Asda, psssh don't judge me. Look at that colour! Black tights, some biker boots ant a little coat? Suave, that's what you'd be. And you can pick it up with the weekly shop. (What? That's not lazy it's multi tasking!)

These AMAZING leggings from Topshop. They would make everything far more fab. Doing some yoga? going to the pub quiz? Dazzle every one with your lovely pins.

And given it's October, look a wee ghostie jumper from New Look! Cheap, cheerful and seasonal. What more could you want?

. I can never, ever resist a good flannel check shirt, like this lovely example from A wear. I totally get that from my dad. When I was growing up his wardrobe staples were wrangler jeans and plaid shirts.
Or how about this utterly gorgeous fair isle dress from Love Moschino. Another one of those "would never have the time to knit" category  and it's utterly flawless. And cosy I'm sure.

Wow, I'm really in a blue mood today. Time for another cup of tea and time to tackle all that ironing.

Is there anything you've got your eye on? A lovely autumnal coat you're lusting after or mabey you've found a killer pair of wellies? care to share?

Minnie xoxo

Monday, 7 October 2013

Christmas Cake 2013

So this is only a slight improvement on last year's series of posts. There's more rum in the fruit soak, more spice and for the sake of clarity this year the cake making is being condensed into one post for the sake off ease &  of print-ability.

I really love this cake, it was born out of necessity ( I have a nut & dairy allergy) but with a lot of experimentation I settled on a good dense, sweet and spicy cake that smells heavenly without being too filling or dry. Dry fruit cake is the pits. It's great iced or plain. Alas the alcohol content is very high so it is not suitable for every one. However an alcohol free version can be easily made a few days before Christmas- just soak the fruit in cold black tea or fruit juice (orange or cranberry juice would be lovely. )

Christmas cake can seem super daunting, baking something so far in advance spoilage can be a worry but that's the important role the alcahol plays preserving the cake and allowing the flavours to deepen and develop.

What you'll need:

  • 200g glacĂ© cherries, chopped (I like French style best, if dayglo red and green are you're thing I won't judge you too much)
  • 200g candied peel (often referred to as mixed peel) 
  • 1kg sultans, raisins or currants (a mix or just the fruit you like best, i usually just use raisins because I like them best and we tend to have them in the pantry anyway.)
  • 1 litre bottle of dark rum (this will serve you from start to finish and leave you some to spare, supermarket own brand is fine)
  • 30ml/1 table spoon of vanilla extract (never essence if you can help it)
  • 250g very dark brown sugar
  • 250g butter (I use a dairy free margarine, as long as its okay for baking it'll work in the cake)
  • 6 medium eggs
  • 400g plain flour
  • 1/4 of a teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 100g ground rice or ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 3 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons of mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger